Remarking, with a shrug of the shoulders, that he supposed it was all up, our Viking scattered the fish that hid the barrel, and hoisted it out from its scaly bed. "That's about the size of it," said the coastguard we did not like. "Where's the rest?" "That's all," said Mr. Benenden. "We're poor men, and we has to act according to our means."
We asked these sailors to get it for us." "Sailors, indeed!" said the hateful coastguard. "You come along with me." And our Viking said he was something or othered. But Benenden whispered to him in a low voice that it was all right time was up. No one heard this but me and the Viking. "I want to go home," said Dicky. "I don't want to come along with you." "What did you want water for?" was asked.
It wasn't exactly that that they said, but it meant the same thing, and we heaved like anything. It was a proud moment when her nose touched the water, and prouder still when only a small part of her stern remained on the beach and Mr. Benenden remarked "All aboard!" The red boy gave a "leg up" to Dicky and me and clambered up himself.
We made our way to the beach, and we tried to conceal ourselves as much as possible, but several people did see us. When we got to the boat we found she was manned by our Viking and Benenden, and a boy with red hair, and they were running her down to the beach on rollers. Of course Dicky and I lent a hand, shoving at the stern of the boat when the men said, "Yo, ho! Heave ho, my merry boys all!"
It was deemed best not to rouse him to fresh sufferings. It was getting latish, and Oswald, though thrilled in every marrow, was getting rather sleepy, when old Benenden said, "There she is!" Oswald could see nothing at first, but presently he saw a dark form on the smooth sea. It turned out to be another boat.
In the churchyards of Hawkhurst, Benenden, Bodiam, Cranbrook, Goudhurst, and all through the Great Weald these incised stones are to be discovered by hundreds, very much of one type perhaps, but displaying nevertheless some extraordinary variations. I know of no district so fruitful of these examples as the Weald of Kent.
In the visitations of the heralds, the Gibbons are frequently mentioned; they held the rank of esquire in an age, when that title was less promiscuously assumed: one of them, under the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was captain of the militia of Kent; and a free school, in the neighbouring town of Benenden, proclaims the charity and opulence of its founder.
"I've no stomach for fish, thank you all the same," replied Mr. Stokes coldly. He walked up and down on the beach, clapping his arms to keep himself warm. "Going to see us unload her?" asked Mr. Benenden. "If it's all the same to you," answered the disagreeable coastguard. He had to wait a long time, for the cart did not come, and did not come, and kept on not coming for ages and ages.
"Well, see here, Benenden, him as owns the Mary Sarah, he's often took out a youngster or two for the night's fishing, when their pa's and ma's hadn't no objection. You write your pa, and ask if you mayn't go for the night's fishing, or you get Mr. Charteris to write. He knows it's all right, and often done by visitors' kids, if boys. And if your pa says yes, I'll make it all right with Benenden.
And now Oswald felt almost sure that his disagreeablenesses, though not exactly curses, were coming home to roost just as though they had been. "You're missing your beauty sleep, Stokes," we heard our Viking remark. "I'm not missing anything else, though," replied the coastguard. "Like half a dozen mackerel for your breakfast?" inquired Mr. Benenden in kindly accents.